Van Treese Is Next In Line

Greg Oden and Mike Conley's careers are done at Indianapolis Lawrence North, leaving behind a legacy of championships and excellence. But don't feel too sorry for Lawrence North as they have another blue-chipper waiting in the wings. Just a sophomore, Stephan Van Treese already has scholarship offers from Ohio State, Indiana, and Purdue, with more surely to come.

Some might say Stephan Van Treese is getting a raw deal.

As the 6-8 210-pound sophomore from Indianapolis Lawrence North prepares to embark on a future filled with telephone calls, fan mail from adoring college coaches and countless text messages to his cellular phone, his former teammates should be ashamed.

The 7-1 Greg Oden is no longer gracing the halls of the Wildcats. Nor is his 6-1 sidekick Michael Conley Jr. Both are enrolled in classes at Ohio State.

In Oden's last will and testament at Lawrence North, he obviously didn't leave his large frame and unnatural ability to Van Treese. Conley didn't leave his handle or calm demeanor to the 15-year old.

But don't feel bad for Van Treese.

Van Treese has been given plenty of God-given talent, and from Oden, he's been bequeathed the pressure of three consecutive Class 4A State Championships in Indiana.

"We're not even ranked in the state, so they haven't thought about us being good I guess, but they're in for a rude awakening in my opinion," said the young power forward who watched from the junior varsity squad as Oden led them to a state title. "We have some of the top juniors in the state in my opinion but they don't really know them. We have the top '09 class. We have a lot of people that can play."

While Van Treese was taking a crasher course on high school basketball last season as a freshman, he was doing so watching the near unanimous top player in the country.

In the meantime, he was earning quite the reputation, especially this spring and summer on the AAU circuit with the 15-under Indiana Elite program.

Schools like Indiana, Ohio State and Purdue have already offered scholarships, while Van Treese reports interest from Duke, Wake Forest, Xavier, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Texas Tech, Florida State and, "most of the Big Ten schools."

It's only just beginning. By next year, Van Treese will be fielding many more phone calls from coaches and reporters, text messages and plenty of mail.

He's looking no further than his departed teammates for tips on how to handle the whole ordeal.

"I think I am (ready) or I hope I am," Van Treese says reluctantly. "I'm just going to handle it like Greg and Mike did. They're like my guinea pigs and I get to watch them."

They're also the guinea pigs of new Indiana head basketball coach Kelvin Sampson.

Or more aptly, Van Treese might fit that label.

The former Oklahoma head coach is trying to make a name with the Hoosier program. He's looking down the road and trying to start in part with Van Treese.

"They're trying to get some of the top Indiana kids to go there – they would say that if they were there at Indiana two years ago, they would have Greg and Mike going there," Van Treese says of Indiana recruiting him as being part of the renaissance in Bloomington. "They really think they can turn the program around and I kind of think they can from what I've seen. They're working hard."

As Van Treese watches, wondering whether Indiana will lure the next Oden or Conley to Bloomington, he's also watching Ohio State – where his former high school teammates will be playing their college basketball this season.

"I think they're just as powerful as Indiana was in their prime," Van Treese says of the Buckeyes. "I think they're becoming as good as anyone in the country – I mean look at the recruiting classes they have coming in now. They really know what they're doing. Ohio State really didn't have the greatest team last year, but they still managed to get far in the Big Ten Tournament and won more games than all the Big Ten schools."

Many of the nation's top programs will be after Van Treese in very short order.

But for someone looking for possible favorites, keep an eye no further than the aforementioned two. It's a long ways off, but is it possible Van Treese could see it coming down to these two Big Ten programs in the future?

"Yeah, I do," he admits. "I can see that."

Throw in Purdue, and you have a good old-fashioned Midwest war possibly shaping up.

The Boilermakers, like Ohio State, have been having a lot of recruiting success of their own. Van Treese has taken notice.

"I've talked to Coach (Matt) Painter and he's trying to build relationships with a lot of the players," he explained. "He's doing a pretty good job. He's gotten like three players in the past month. I think he's trying to do the same job that Indiana and Ohio State is – trying to get the top players."

With Oden gone, now Van Treese gets to step into his role and attempt to carry the Wildcats to what he hopes will be a fourth straight state title.

Despite the loss of Oden, and the chance to take matters into his own hands, he won't soon forget the memories of when the 7-footer was around.

"It was like a dream," he said. "It was like a movie. We won the state, I got to work out with Greg and Mike and go up against the top players in the nation almost every day."

Perhaps the kid didn't get such a raw deal after all.

He'll be making a name for himself in the near future. Hopefully his guinea pigs taught him well.

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